Featured, Music History »

Crumhorns, Sackbuts and…Oliphants?

Posted October 19, 2016 by | 0 Comments

As a lover of early (pre-renaissance) music, I’ve heard my share of medieval instruments like the vielle, rebec, sackbut and crumhorn. Add to that list the oliphant, which I learned about more recently. It is not to be confused with the modern-day large pachyderm (though the name is an ancient variant of elephant) nor the lumbering creature from the Lord of the Rings. And it …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Featured, Music History, music phenomena, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

The Modern and Edgy Music of Bartok and Hindemith

Posted October 5, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Just as Dave Brubeck or Chet Baker are considered “gateway” (aka accessible) artists for an introduction to jazz, so are Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy for classical newbies who are searching for something other than Bach or Mozart. But if you’re ready to move beyond classical music’s greatest hits, I recommend exploring the music of Béla Bartók and Paul Hindemith. I find their music modern and edgy.
I was introduced …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Music History, Performances & Events »

Kraftwerk Electrifies at the Hollywood Bowl

Posted September 21, 2016 by | 0 Comments

I was lucky enough to attend Kraftwerk’s spectacular 3-D show this past Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. The group looked just like their album covers: 4 guys standing in front of small pedestal platforms with keyboards on them. They wore identical form-fitting jumpsuits with a glowing grid pattern, which seemed to change colors as the videos changed. (Did anyone else think that they could have stepped out of …

Featured, Music History, reggae, RIP »

Prince Buster, Early Blue Beat and Ska Great, RIP

Posted September 14, 2016 by | 3 Comments

Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer Prince Buster (1938-2016) died on September 8 in Miami at the age of 78. Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in a rough neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica, he came of age in the early 1960’s, cutting classic Jamaican sides in the Blue Beat and ska styles, precursors of the rocksteady and reggae styles that came a few years later.
I’ve always loved ska, …

Classical, Featured, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Thibaut de Navarre: The Mysteries and Wonders of Medieval Music

Posted September 5, 2016 by | 1 Comment
Initial A: David Playing the Psaltery, about 1460 - 1480, Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

The other day veteran music journalist Steve Hochman reminded me of a wonderful album of music by the French trouvère Thibaut de Navarre (1201-1253) on the Harmonia Mundi label. This 1979 album, featuring the classic Harmonia Mundi cover art and format, is one I used to spin during my Morning Becomes Eclectic days. It’s in the category known as “Early Music,” i.e. pre-Renaissance music that goes back to …

Artist Spotlight, Audiophiles, Featured, Jazz, Music History, RIP »

Rudy Van Gelder, Legendary Jazz Engineer (1924-2016) RIP

Posted August 25, 2016 by | 2 Comments

I have been dreading the day I would hear this news. But it’s true, Rudy Van Gelder (RVG) has died at the age of 91. He became legendary, but started out recording late-night sessions in his parents’ living room in the early 1950’s while attending optometry school by day. Thank goodness he didn’t pursue an optometry career!
The other day I pulled out his 1953 recording for Prestige, Bag’s …

Artist Spotlight, brazilian music, Classical, Featured, Jazz, Music History, Performances & Events »

Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vernon Duke: Dual (Composer) Personalities

Posted August 15, 2016 by | 0 Comments

I was at the Hollywood Bowl last Saturday night for the big “An Olympic Carnival – Sergio Mendes & 50 Years of Brasil ’66” show, which opened with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing Brazilian classics. It was a great program–beautifully conducted by Thomas Wilkins, with fantastic guest dancers and singers, plus a spectacular fireworks finale.
The show started with “Aquarela do Brasil,” Ary Barroso‘s 1939 classic, a Brazilian musical …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, Jazz, Latin, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #171: Stan Kenton & Tito Rodriguez: Anatomy of an Orchestra

Posted August 12, 2016 by | 0 Comments

In 1952, Stan Kenton recorded a piece called “Prologue: This is An Orchestra.” In the 10 minute work he introduces all the members of his jazz orchestra: the drummer, bassist, saxophonists, trumpet player, trombone, and bass trombone player. In the bass trombone part he tells George Roberts to go lower, to the bottom of the instrument’s capability, which he does. Kenton also talks about …

brazilian music, Featured, Latin, Music History »

Musings on Brazil as the Olympics Near

Posted August 3, 2016 by | 0 Comments
View of Corcovado. Photo by Pedro Vasquez Colmenares (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr

With the Summer Olympics in Rio just two days away, I’m thinking about our great southern neighbor. Caetano Veloso once told me that Brazil is “the great other.” The largest Latin American country but the only Lusophone nation, separated by Pope Julius II in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas so that Spain and Portugal would not fight over dominion of newly-discovered lands. Caetano implied that this …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Jazz, Music History »

Miles Davis Wouldn’t Have Envied Sly Stone Later On

Posted July 25, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Miles Davis once groused that in big Bill Graham-type rock shows in the late 60’s and early 70’s, that he was only making $10k per appearance and not the $50k that Sly and the Family Stone were getting. Davis also once said that Sly Stone “was my only peer.” This was during the Betty Mabry days when Miles was making funk/pop records, to the …

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